Juvenile sentenced in attack on Derek Whitener

Video surveillance footage from outside the CityPlace Target helped police identify suspects in the assault of Derek Whitener. One of the two has been sentenced to 7 years probation.

One of the two teenagers arrested in connection with the January attack on Derek Whitener has been sentenced to 7 years probation, according to CBS 11. The second suspect,, 17-year-old Zantrall Sauls, is still awaiting trial.

The two allegedly attacked Whitener, artistic director for the Firehouse Theatre in Farmer’s Branch, on Jan. 14 as he left the Target at CityPlace on Haskell Ave. The suspects hit him in the head with a pipe, fracturing his skull. Whitener had to undergo brain surgery because of the attack, and was hospitalized until Jan. 28.

His attorney, Chris Hamilton, told CBS that Whitener will likely never be the same because of the attack.

Video surveillance footage helped police identify the two attackers, and the juvenile, whose name is not being released because of his age, was the first to be arrested, on Jan. 27. Sauls was arrested on Jan. 30.

—  Tammye Nash

Kim Davis’ meeting with the Pope wasn’t that special after all (but a gay man and his partner got a private audience with the pontiff)

Kim and Francis

Pope Francis did meet Kim Davis, but it wasn’t really the way Davis and her lawyer described it

Despite Kim Davis’ rapturous description of how Pope Francis embraced her and her bigoted efforts to continue to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it now looks like the pope isn’t as big a Kim Davis fan as she led us to believe.

In fact, Vatican officials today (Friday, Oct. 2) released statements that totally contradict the implication that Davis had been specifically invited by the pope for a special meeting.

“Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable. He even asked me to pray for him. Pope Francis thanked me for my courage and told me to ‘stay strong,’” Davis told CNN earlier this week. Davis said she put her hand out to greet the pontiff, and that “he hugged me, and I hugged him.”

Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel founder and Davis’ lawyer, told CNN the meeting lasted about 10 minutes and was just between the pope, Davis and her husband. Staver was not at the meeting, but said that Pope Francis hugged Davis and gave her and her husband both rosaries, and that Davis gave her rosary to her parents, who are Catholic.

After the meeting, Davis told ABC News, “Just knowing the pope is on track with what we’re doing, and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything.”

But now it’s looking like Davis’ “everything” isn’t so valid after all.

Vatican officials initially refused to either confirm or deny that Pope Francis had met with Davis, and then later acknowledged that the meeting took place. But, they are now adding, Davis was just one of “several dozen” folks that the pope greeted during a reception at the Vatican Embassy just before he left Washington, D.C. And, officials have said, it wasn’t the Pope who asked for Davis to be there, but instead an embassy official that extended the invitation.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, released this statement:

“Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

“The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.”

And as NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Italy, “the Rev. Thomas Rosica, English language assistant at the Holy See Press Office, says that Francis may not have understood ‘the impact’ a visit with Davis might have in the U.S.; Rosica also says the group that included Davis was selected by the nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic office in D.C.”

To top it all off, not only is the Vatican now stressing that the Pope is not “on track” with Kim Davis and her bigotry, it appears that the “former student” and his family that Rev. Lombardi referred to in his statement is a gay man and his partner and some friends, according to the New York Times.

Yayo Grassi, an openly gay man living in Washington, D.C., told the Times that his a former student of the pope, and that he had been granted a meeting with the pontiff. Grassi said he was accompanied by his partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, and four friends.

Contacted by phone, a former student of Francis, Yayo Grassi, said he had been granted a meeting with the pope. Mr. Grassi is an openly gay man living in Washington, and he said he had been accompanied by his partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, as well as four friends.

According to the New York Times, “Mr. Grassi, a 67-year-old caterer, said that his group met with Francis at the Vatican Embassy on Sept. 23 — a day before Ms. Davis met the pope. In the 1960s, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as the future pope was called, taught Mr. Grassi Argentine literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción, a Jesuit high school in Santa Fe, Argentina.”

—  Tammye Nash

Man found murdered in West Dallas

Tony Sanchez

Photos of Tony Sanchez, taken from his Facebook page

Dallas Police are investigating the murder of Tony Sanchez, a 51-year-old man found dead Saturday, July 11, in his apartment at the Budget Suites on North Walton Walker Freeway at Singleton Boulevard.

Roger Herrera, attorney and one-time Dallas mayoral candidate, said today (Monday, July 13) that Sanchez was a gay man who had been an AIDS activist and LGBT community activist.

According to information released by police, officers responded to the Budget Suites at about 2:13 p.m. Saturday after a friend of Sanchez’s, unable to reach him by phone, went to his apartment and found him dead. Homicide detectives responding to the scene determined that Sanchez “died as a result of homicidal violence.”

Police have no information on a potential suspect, according to reports, and the investigation is ongoing. Dallas Voice has requested more information and will update this post as information becomes available.

Herrera said Monday that he first met Sanchez in 1993 and that the two had become close friends over the years. “In fact, when I ran for mayor in 2007, he put all my campaign signs together for me,” Herrera said.

The attorney said Sanchez had “worked at Hunky’s for a while, way back when,” and that he had been involved with Oak Lawn Community Services, an AIDS services organization. He said Sanchez usually worked in customer service positions with call centers and “I believe that one of his temporary jobs had recently turned into a permanent position.”

Herrera said he hadn’t seen Sanchez “in a while,” and that he had sent his friend a text around noon on Saturday to “see about getting together for dinner or something. But he never responded.” The attorney said he got a call from a mutual friend about 2:30 p.m. telling him that Sanchez had been found dead in his apartment, “but I didn’t know that he had been murdered until I saw the news reports about it later on.”

—  Tammye Nash

NBC’s “Awake” pits gay actors against each other

One of the gay people pictured isn’t real.

Yeah, we’ve heard that before.

Not the actors of course — Tony and Emmy Award winner Cherry Jones and Tony winner B.D. Wong — but the characters they play on Awake. Both play psychiatrists; both treat the same patient. Only one of them doesn’t exist.

It’s not just that they are two very talented gay actors that I have cleaved to this relatively minor point (that is part of a much bigger concept). It’s because one of them doesn’t — and never did — exist. And they are the only ones.

It’s confusing, as the series, which debuts tonight on NBC, can be. The series would probably fare better on cable, where its quirkiness would play better. The idea is that a cop (Jason Isaacs, hunky as ever) was in a car accident with his wife and son; he survived; so did one of them. But in one reality, it’s his wife who lived; in the other, his son. He’s not sure which.

And that’s where the gay therapists come in.

In his sessions with them — one in each reality — he can admit that he alternates between waking universes, not sure which one is the true on. Both Jones and Wong assure him that their reality is the actual one. Which means one of them is wrong.

There are many other changes in Isaacs’ worlds: Different cop partners, different cases to solve, but all intertwined. It’s only on the psychiatric couch that everything is separate. They are the only characters aware of the competing realities. So I found myself rooting, not for his wife or son, but for which gay actor I wanted to return for season 2.

That’s probably not a problem. As soon as they answer the question, the series is over.  I saw a screener of Awake two months ago before the network even knew when it would debut on the schedule. They dropped it pretty quick — right after February sweeps ended and before May’s begin. Doesn’t show much confidence in it.

Lesbian or the gay man… How to choose? It’s likely to keep me awake.

Watch the trailer after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sleepy genius


Mike Hadreas — aka Perfume Genius — has grown into an ethereal messenger since 2010’s Learning. Touching on themes that can apply to anyone, Hadreas is both a beacon of hope and a teller of dreamy tales on his new CD, Put Your Back N 2 It (Matador Records).

Hadreas starts the album on a sleepy, languid path with “AWOL Marine” and stays consistent throughout the 12 tracks. This can be a turn-off for someone looking for a more spirited album, but Hadreas is about depth and his lyrics reveal a major advance since Learning.

Finding inspiration from homemade basement porn never sounded so exquisite as it does in “Marine,” but the minimalist approach adds gravitas, not to mention beauty. He adds stunning emotions to “Take Me Home” (based on “hookerism”) and “Floating Spit” (about overdosing). Hadreas is fearless about turning out butterflies from such depths of social standards.

On “17,” Hadreas writes an ode to gay men who have issues with image. He admits the song is a “gay suicide letter” (and a short one, too, at 2:30) but it’s a shattering one. He doesn’t shy from abstract lyrics but they still bring enough poetic power to have a heartbreaking impact. When he quietly sings In the body of a violin/String it up on a fence/Cover it with semen/I am done, I am done with it, the words are piercing even through his simple delivery.

From suicide to romance, the title track is a love song that floats on a lush piano and brings to light the feelings of budding love and awkward gay sex. Hadreas is gloriously blatant, but decidely poignant. Lyrics like There is love with no hiding/Nothing you’ll show me I will never leave here/Let me be the one to turn you on whisper gently and before you know it, it’s already on your mixtape to your beau.

Put Your Back N 2 It is impressionistic in its package and addresses life as a gay man, but also life in general. He sings about his mother, holding his boyfriend’s hand and even death, all with a delicacy that speaks volumes if you listen closely.

— Rich Lopez

Three and half stars.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

No posthumous pardon for Alan Turing, the gay man who made your computer possible

Alan Turing

If Alan Turing isn’t already the patron saint of gay geeks he should be. The British Turing was a cryptologist during War World II,  conducting work crucial to the Allied effort to decode German messages, but it’s his pioneering contributions to early computing systems that really make Turing stand out. In 1946 Turing presented the first detailed plans for a stored-memory computer, creating the basic theory on which all modern computers are based. His innovations often outstripped the technology of his day. In 1948 Turing, working with a colleague, wrote the world’s first computer chess program, the only problem being that there wasn’t yet a machine powerful enough to run it. After his death, once computers became more powerful, the program was put into action and proved capable of beating amateur players.

Turing’s genius and skill didn’t save him from the institutionalized homophobia of his day, however. In 1952 his boyfriend broke into his house and robbed it. When Turing reported the crime to the police and explained his relationship to the perpetrator he was arrested and convicted under Britain’s laws prohibiting “homosexual acts.” The conviction led to Turing being stripped of his security clearance and barred from further government work.

The court gave Turing the choice of a prison sentence or chemical castration through estrogen injections. To avoid prison he agreed to the injections. Turing fell into a deep depression, partially attributable to the hormone imbalance caused by the injections. In 1952 his maid found him dead in bed, the victim of a self-inflicted cyanide overdose. The half eaten apple found on his nightstand fueled rumors that Turing administered the poison via the apple as an homage to the movie Snow White, but the apple was never tested. (Urban legend has it that Apple Computer’s logo, an apple with a bite taken out of it, is an homage to Turing.)

In preparation for the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth in 2012 groups in the UK started a petition asking the government to issue a posthumous pardon to the war hero and pioneer last year. A similar effort in 2009 led to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown issuing an official apology for the British government’s treatment of Turing, but the pardon effort seems doomed to be unsuccessful. This week Britain’s Justice Minister, Lord McNally, issued a statement that Turing’s pardon would not be forthcoming:

“The question of granting a posthumous pardon to Mr Turing was considered by the previous Government in 2009… a posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted.

“It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd -particularly poignant given his outstanding contribution to the war effort.”

—  admin

Balch Springs PD: Investigation into gay man’s death is ongoing

Police chief says anti-gay behavior by officers not tolerated, says such behavior by investigator is unlikely


Police Chief Ed Morris

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

BALCH SPRINGS — Balch Springs Police Chief Ed Morris said an investigation into the death of a gay man in his city is ongoing. Answering charges of homophobia in his department lodged by the dead man’s family, Morris said that he doesn’t tolerate that sort of behavior in his officers.

The body of Rodney Johnson was found in his trailer in Balch Springs on Nov. 12.

Morris said that there was no sign of foul play in Johnson’s death but that his department is awaiting test results from the Dallas County medical examiner before proceeding with an investigation. Those results take about three months to return.

Johnson’s sister Duby Redburn said that the officer she spoke to snickered and said, “I don’t know what sort of lifestyle he led,” when describing what he found.

“He was very insensitive,” Redburn said of the detective’s behavior.

Morris made it clear he wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behavior from his officers.

“I don’t think any of my officers would make an anti-gay comment,” he said.

He said that if he thought that any officer was guilty of that sort of behavior, that officer would be in his office immediately and he would take care of it. But Morris said he would especially surprised if he heard it about the specific officer Redburn accused.

Johnson did not show up for work at his job as a security guard at a Bank of America branch on Thursday, Nov. 10. His supervisor became worried when she couldn’t reach him by phone, so she drove to his home. When he didn’t answer the door, she called police.

The supervisor and Johnson’s family have said police never responded to the call.

But Morris said department records indicate that Johnson’s supervisor’s call to police was logged at 2:41 p.m. on Nov. 11, and that a patrol car was dispatched to Johnson’s address at 2:49 p.m. He said that was reasonable response time for that sort of non-emergency “welfare check” call.

Police arrived at 3:03 p.m. at the location, Morris said.

The officer responding to the call reported that there was no odor coming from the trailer.

He asked neighbors about Johnson’s car that was parked in an odd position. Neighbors said it had been there for several days.

Morris said they searched records to see if there were additional calls from the supervisor’s phone number but could not find any, although the supervisor said she had called both 911 and the department’s direct line phone number.

A police department spokesman initially told Dallas Voice there was no record of either call.

Johnson’s body was found the next day when his brother, Roger Johnson, got a call from Rodney’s boyfriend in Canada, worried that he hadn’t heard from him. Roger Johnson used his key to the trailer to enter, and found his brother lying on the floor, face down.

Roger Johnson had said his brother’s body was lying in a pool of blood.

The call record indicates police were dispatched in 30 seconds and arrived in minutes.

Morris said he didn’t recall seeing any blood on the floor in the police pictures taken before Johnson was transported by helicopter to the hospital. But he said the body showed signs of lividity, meaning the blood had settled to the lower part of the body, which indicated he had been lying on the floor for some time before he was found.

Other issues remain unresolved, such as an unauthorized attempt to access Johnson’s bank account the week after his death. But since the original article appeared in

Dallas Voice on Dec. 23, Redburn has been in touch with city officials and has been assured the case is still open.
Last year, Balch Springs had no homicides.

“The crime rate’s been down for the last few years,” Morris said. “We want to keep it that way.”
But he said that if there is an indication from the medical examiner that Johnson’s death was caused by anything other than natural causes, “We will actively investigate.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

2011 Year in Review: Books


THANK EWE FOR BEING CATHERINE FRIEND | In ‘Sheepish,’ an urbanite lesbian becomes an unwilling shepherdess at the behest of her partner, making for a charming memoir of rural life.

So the year has wound down and you’re ready to grab a hot cuppa and curl up somewhere with your Snuggie and a book. Or you’re heading to the beach and can’t stand to go empty-handed. Whatever your destination, you can’t go wrong if you take these books with you — for our money, the best gay-interest reads of 2011.

it's-all-relativeNow that the holidays are over and you can look back with a grin (or a growl), you can also safely read It’s All Relative by Wade Rouse. This funny, sad, makes-you-cry book is about holidays: Those you spend alone, those you wish you’d spent alone, and those you’d never in a million years be caught dead spending alone. I loved this book for its humor but the best part is that love — between parent and child, friends or partners — shines through every laugh.

Even though “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is history, this book can’t be dismissed like gay soldiers once were: The Last Deployment by Bronson Lemer, a funny, wry, all-around great story of one gay man’s reluctant service in the North Dakota National Guard.

Lemer signed up for the education benefits and never thought he’d serve overseas — but overseas he went, and not just once. While he was a soldier, he listened to buddies tease and talk trash about gay men but Lemer never came out to fellow soldiers, friends, or family… until this book hit stands. Even though you can now be loud and proud in uniform, it’s definitely worth reading.

If a weekend in the country sounds good to you about now, first read the memoir Sheepish by Catherine Friend. Friend’s partner, Melissa, always wanted to be a farmer. Friend grew up in the city, but she compromised … and hated it. But who can resist a sweet lamb?  Who doesn’t love baby animals?

Then again, who could foresee the backbreaking work and heartbreaking loss that comes from falling in love with a farmer and her flock?  Not you, so if you love a good yarn, you’ll want this book ba-a-a-a-d.

And if you’re looking forward to some sun, sand, and pampering this year, then you’ll want to take Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio (with Michael Malice) along. This memoir is an intimate look at what goes on at those high-priced hotels and how the concierges will do anything to make their clients happy. I loved the gossipiness of this book, mostly because it packs sneaky-peeks but lacks snark.

Emily-&-EinsteinDo. Not. Miss. Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee. It’s the story of a spoiled man who is killed on his way to tell his wife that he wants a divorce. When a scruffy angel greets him, he begs for another chance and is given it, though he’s warned that he won’t like what’s about to happen. This is a charmer, a book for dog lovers and anybody who wants a book that will make them say “Awwwww” when the last page is turned.

That’s our top 5, but these bonus books deserve a mention, too:

Beautiful Unbroke by Mary Jane Nealon is the true story of a nurse who spends her life running away from the one thing she always wanted to do, until she finds the very patients who heal the healer. Also, don’t miss The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstein, a fantasy set in a magical circus where love, distaste and danger are on the same merry-go-round.

There you are, a passel of pages you simply can’t miss, for your vacation, your evening alone, your weekend away — or just because you love a good book.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

“Head Figure Head” more about journalism than about Gov. Rick Perry’s sex life

Head Figure Head, the new e-book from Glen Maxey, details the author’s arduous and frustrating six-month effort to investigate rumors of Gov. Rick Perry’s gay sex life. Maxey served as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) during Perry’s tenure as a state representative, later serving for 12 years as a state representative, spanning Perry’s time as agricultural commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor. Of all the people who’ve attempted to look into the rumors of Perry’s trysts with men, Maxey is perhaps best positioned to get to the truth, and takes great pains to ensure we are aware of that fact.

The book is the narrative of Maxey’s research, assisted by a journalist from a national media outlet. Like almost every character in the book other than Maxey and Perry himself, “the Journalist” is referred to only as a pseudonym. Maxey and the Journalist begin their search for proof in June 2011 as rumors of Perry’s impending presidential bid are widely circulating. Immediately the pair find that almost every gay man in Austin has a friend who has a friend who claims to have slept with Perry. For the next three months they track those leads and come excruciatingly close to breaking the story.

—  admin